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  1. #1
    evil disco man's Avatar
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    Post FieldTurf will be in Dome only one year

    FieldTurf will be in Dome only one year

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    05/10/2005


    The first artificial-turf field at the Edward Jones Dome lasted 10 NFL seasons. The next one will be retired after only one.

    The FieldTurf that will be installed this summer will be temporary, officials from the Rams, the Convention and Visitors Commission and the Regional Convention & Sports Complex Authority said Tuesday at a news conference on the dome's concrete floor. That's because a satisfactory removable system - a requirement for accommodating other events at America's Center - hasn't been developed, said Bruce Sommer, the CVC's director of facilities.

    But Sommer emphasized that such a system should be in place at the dome before the 2006 season.

    "We are working with all the companies that are doing" research and development, Sommer said. "And we fully expect - and they expect - by some time early next year that there will be one that we will be satisfied with. And then that will be our new permanent turf."

    The regional sports authority is footing the $168,000 bill for the temporary surface. FieldTurf is thicker, heavier and softer than Astroturf, the original dome surface. Plastic fibers that are 2 1/2 inches tall are sewn onto a backing, and then sand and small bits of recycled rubber are layered between the simulated grass blades.

    With the new turf at the dome and another being installed at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, 22 of the 32 NFL teams will be playing on FieldTurf.

    "This is important for a lot of reasons, primarily the health concerns of all the players," Rams coach Mike Martz said in a statement. "This is exciting to be able to play on a more forgiving surface." Martz, who was out of town, was not available for further comment.

    FieldTurf was placed in the indoor practice facility at Rams Park before the 2002 season and became an instant hit, said Bob Wallace, the team's executive vice president. "We realized that this is a better surface," he said. "We sometimes like working on that at Rams Park more than even the grass. We really like the surface, the softness of it and the forgiveness of it."

    Installation probably will begin in mid-July, with completion in time for the Rams' first preseason game Aug. 12. After the season, the surface will be returned to FieldTurf, which has its headquarters in Toronto.

    So, in essence, a field is being "rented" for the 2005 season to satisfy the city's lease with the Rams. It requires that by July 2005 the dome remains in the top 25 percent of NFL facilities. Without the original Astroturf surface being replaced, that condition wouldn't have been met, Sommer said.

    "This is not something that we had an option to do or not to do," he added. "Fortunately, we're going to be able to do it in a way that takes care of our other business, which obviously has always been another primary concern of ours."

    Sommer said only one nonfootball event is scheduled in the NFL season that requires use of the dome floor: a Joyce Meyer Ministries Conference Sept. 29-Oct. 1. The CVC will rent a hard plastic cover to place over the FieldTurf for that event.

    But many other conventions and trade shows need access to the electrical outlets and other utility connections on the floor of the dome, which is why a removable, or "convertible," playing surface is a must, Sommer said.

    Only one such system is in place now, at the Skydome in Toronto. Major League Baseball's Blue Jays are playing on FieldTurf that was used last year in Montreal, the Expos' final season there before moving to Washington. That surface is divided into trays, which are 14 feet long and 8 feet wide and weigh about 1,500 pounds. A forklift is used to put the trays in place and then to remove them.

    Officials from the various local organizations traveled to Toronto in early April to examine that surface. Sommer said the group members agreed that the tray system needed more work before it became viable for NFL football.

    "The seams were somewhat noticeable," said Brian McMurtry, director of operations for America's Center. "We were worried about how a ball may bounce on those seams. We didn't want to be the guinea pig."

    Six firms made offers to provide the temporary surface. Sommer said that FieldTurf not only had the best proposal, it also submitted the lowest bid. But he emphasized that all those firms are working on convertible systems and that any one of them could wind up providing the new permanent field at the dome.

    The Rams have been clamoring for a softer surface than the five-eighths-inch Astroturf that's been used since the middle of the 1995 season, the team's first year here after moving from Los Angeles. "Anybody who ever saw the rubber that stuck out on the side, you realized it's just concrete with a little bit of padding on it," Rams guard Adam Timmerman said.

    Wide receiver Shaun McDonald assured that the new surface would be universally endorsed by his teammates. "I definitely like it," he said. "You won't be too nervous getting tackled anymore."

    The bruised shoulder suffered last season by Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, as well as some of running back Steven Jackson's knee problems, were thought to be caused at least in part by the unyielding Astroturf.

    "I'm not an expert on it, but I know if I've got (an injury) kind of nagging me, it seems like if you play on that hard surface, it just exposes it even more," wideout Kevin Curtis said. "Pretty much everyone I've talked to doesn't really enjoy playing on that."


  2. #2
    ZigZagRam's Avatar
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    Re: FieldTurf will be in Dome only one year

    My great grandpa always used to say, "Billy, one season with field turf is better than no seasons with field turf."

  3. #3
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    Re: FieldTurf will be in Dome only one year

    Gramps is right Zig. One season is better than none, and when the team gets a chance to play on the field turf they will become more vocal about its need to stay.

    I saw some field turf on an indoor soccer field, but I didn't play on it so I can't really say too much. The little pieces of rubber make it pretty soft and they jump around when guys are running around. It adds some additional visual effects to movement.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    Re: FieldTurf will be in Dome only one year

    Like playing football on a trampoline. Farout!

    Go Batmanlike acrobatic RAMS dudes.

  5. #5
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    Re: FieldTurf will be in Dome only one year

    That field turf is cool stuff...We scrimmaged Hart HS last year and their home field uses field turf. It's fast and forgiving. It'll be a great surface for the Rams....

  6. #6
    tim
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    Re: FieldTurf will be in Dome only one year

    Quote Originally Posted by UtterBlitz
    I saw some field turf on an indoor soccer field, but I didn't play on it so I can't really say too much.
    My school, Rockhurst in KC, has Field Turf. It's really nice stuff.

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    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: FieldTurf will be in Dome only one year

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadesofgrey
    That field turf is cool stuff...We scrimmaged Hart HS last year and their home field uses field turf. It's fast and forgiving. It'll be a great surface for the Rams....
    Quote Originally Posted by tim
    My school, Rockhurst in KC, has Field Turf. It's really nice stuff.
    Man, what kind of high schools did you guys go to?!? When I was in high school, our field looked like a scene from the Junction Boys!
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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